William Barton to receive Distinguished Services to Australian Music honour

William-Barton-photo-by-Keith-SaundersPresented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre, the esteemed Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music will be awarded to Kalkadunga composer and musician, William Barton, at the 2023 Art Music Awards at Carriageworks on Tuesday 15 August.

Barton is widely recognised as Australia’s leading didgeridoo player and a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. Throughout his diverse career, he has forged an unparalleled path in the classical music world and established new possibilities for Australian music.

A proud Kalkadunga man, hailing from the Mt. Isa area in Queensland, Barton’s music not only reflects his cultural heritage but has expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo and the culture and landscape that it represents.

Barton has performed with the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, and at historic events such as at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day 2019, the 90th and 100th anniversary openings of Gallipoli at ANZAC Cove and the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

His awards and accolades include an ARIA for Best Classical Album for Kalkadungu (2012), and Best World Music Album for History Has a Heartbeat (with Joseph Tawadros, 2022).

For his soundtrack to the 2022 documentary film River, Barton received the APRA Screen Music Awards for Best Soundtrack Album and Best Original Song Composed for the Screen, an AACTA Award for Best Original Score in a Documentary and an ARIA Award for Best Original Soundtrack.

“This award to me, it means the world. It is presented to me by my colleagues, by my peers – the musical foundations across Australia,” said William Barton. “With the intention of this award being given back to my community, I share with them the success of my journey. Not only my Kalkadungu nation, but all nations across Australia and the world.”

“It’s important to be reflective on the journey and also acknowledge all the Aunties and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandfathers who help create a safe space for artists such as myself to be a composer in the Western world and give me and others that strong foundation of country and how we interpret the language of the landscape with the sonic force of a symphony orchestra – like the kangaroo sinew of strength, also nurturing the fragility between two worlds.”

At the end of 2022 Barton was named Queensland Australian of the Year and was an Australian of the Year nominee. In 2021, he received the Don Banks Music Award, acknowledging the outstanding and sustained contribution by an artist of high distinction. Barton serves on the board for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Music Centre.

The award will be presented at the Art Music Awards, where William Barton will perform with Veronique Serret (violin), Sam Anning (bass), Matthew Hoy (cello) and his mother and frequent collaborator, Aunty Delmae Barton.

Curated by musical director Barney McAll, the evening will also feature music performances by Australian-American experimental art rock band Liars, songman Ngulmiya and Maharishi Raval as a voice and tabla/drone duet, up-and-coming saxophonist Tessie Overmyer with jazz quintet and Performance of the Year (Notated Composition) finalists Omega Ensemble. The Art Music Awards will be hosted by Monica Trapaga, Nardi Simpson and Sonya Holowell.

The 2023 Art Music Awards will be presented at Carriageworks on Tuesday 15 August. For more information, visit: www.apraamcos.com.au for details.

Image: William Barton – photo by Keith Saunders